What if I were to tell you that you can live a peaceful and fulfilling life by inculcating a very small habit in your daily schedule? We are aware of the benefits of regular exercises, drinking enough water, eating healthy food but what if I told you that all the above are secondary when it comes to living a “fulfilling” life?
In this chaotic world when people are constantly engaged in ruthless competition, when there is so much hate around that it feels suffocating, there is one entity that would hold your hand gently and take you to a place of pure bliss and contentment. It is what researches called “Helper’s High” produced by the hormone dopamine which initiates a sense of euphoria in our brains. Here is an interesting fact, this high comes for free! All you have to do is invite Kindness in your life to sit with you, to walk with you and to stay with you.
What does this Kindness look like? To me, it looks like a bunch of sunflowers dancing happily in bright sunlight. To others, it may look like a pet sleeping beside you. It may look like something else, something even more beautiful to you.
There were many small actions that I undertook to invite Kindness in my journey. Starting from being compassionate towards myself, allowing myself to make mistakes, allowing myself to take things slow and going with the flow to becoming more mindful about my feelings and responses, to becoming more optimistic and curious about the future possibilities and being more open towards the perspectives of others and embracing those with wide open arms. Kindness moved in slowly and gently as a witness of my journey and stayed with me. It's easier to navigate through situations with Kindness holding my hand and it's easier to move forward when Tough Times call. You could choose to do volunteer work, donate to charities or just help people out wherever possible.
Since Kindness has entered my life I have noticed how my life has transformed. I feel more at peace. I have inculcated immense respect and patience for myself and for the people around me. Even when things don’t work out my way Kindness supports me in those times and allows me to step back and reflect on the developments of life. Kindness makes everything easier and in flow. It allows me to align with the universe.
The science behind the existence of Kindness says the same. A Harvard Business school survey of happiness in 2010 in 136 countries found that people who were altruistic were happier overall. Various studies have shown that Kindness helps in the secretion of the love hormone, Oxytocin that helps in increasing optimism, self esteem and improves overall heart health. In the book “Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life” the author talks about how community work helps in increasing longevity. Another study by Christine Carter of UC Berkeley found in her research that about half of the participants felt more energetic and calmer after helping others. Lizette Borreli in Medical Daily reported that engaging in acts of kindness helps secrete endorphins which are the brain’s natural painkiller! Independent studies have found how Kindness increases overall fortune and well-being by decreasing depression and reduction of social avoidance in socially anxious individuals. When small acts can provide us with so many benefits then why not try and see what it makes possible for us? If not more, try bringing Kindness to your daily routine for only 3 days. Doing small acts of kindness like complimenting people, helping people, allowing yourself to just be or whatever you choose to do, try doing it daily for 3 days and you will notice small positive changes.
When trying to invite Kindness in our daily lives, it is also important to keep one’s boundaries in check. A sense of privacy, a sense of independence, a sense of being in power over your existence and a sense of control on things is required to maintain a healthy state of mind and body. Learning to say 'no' to friends and others when you know you can’t be present at your fullest, learning to protect your peace, learning to rest in order to rejuvenate and re-energize are important. It is okay to take a step back and give yourself some time to pause and reflect. Otherwise, Exhaustion might find a gap to enter your life.
Now, when it comes to the idea of “Pause and Reflect” we start moving towards another idea of “Self Care.” These days all of us focus on Self Care in order to heal, and be. An industry of millions has been carved out of this whole idea of ‘self care’. I am not disrespecting this ideology; I want to bring your attention to how this millennial idea of ‘self care’ is so isolating and detaching on a negative level. What we fail to recognize is that our identities are socially constructed, our identities are influenced by the multiple voices around us be it our family, friends, teachers, colleagues, strangers, pets, toys or even fictional characters. All these voices influence us, and allow one to be the way they like. These voices care for us. Sure, self care means focusing on one self but the idea is limiting and too self-centered. We aren’t loners; we are constantly engaged in a two-way interaction process with the dynamic exchange of communication and negotiation. We are meaning makers, who are constantly influenced by the world around us. Self care essentially means collective care where we take care of ourselves through the help and support of the collective voices around us. When people come together collectively to take help and support and construct one’s identity and life that’s when the aim of self care is achieved – “A person is a person through other persons.”
Hence, a balance of all these aspects is what we need to aspire for in order to invite Kindness gently into our lives.
Here are a few questions to ponder upon:
· What would be your own preferred way of inviting Kindness to your life?
· Would you give yourself the permission to be kind towards yourself and then others?
· If you were to invite Kindness for a cup of coffee, what would it say to you?
· What are some little things that you can do that would allow Kindness to come to your life?
· What do you think would become possible when you become friends with Kindness?
· Would you consider writing a letter to Kindness and see what possibility lies ahead of you?
Here is another fun scientific fact: Kindness is contagious. Imagine the existence of magical possibilities if all of us become just a bit kinder towards ourselves and others. What do you think?